OCI/Oregon Culinary Institute - Basics, or More?

Discussion in 'Choosing A Culinary School' started by morphone, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. morphone

    morphone

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    I'm considering the Oregon Culinary Institute, because I've not heard a lot of bad things about it (while I've heard a lot of bad things about other schools), and it's relatively affordable. My question here is, can anyone tell me if what they teach you during the program is just the basics, or it they take their students to an advanced level of culinary learning? Obviously they're not a 2-year program at the CIA, but I'm wondering exactly how deep they get into technique and what I'll potentially walk away with, skill-wise.

    Thanks!!
     
  2. ray colvin

    ray colvin

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    Hi,

    I am the Director of Operations at Oregon Culinary Institute. So take my reply as coming from someone who has a strong positive bias and belief in what we do at OCI.

    At OCI, we believe in technique. Technique and science are the foundation for all great cooking. The artistry of cooking, like the artistry of playing the guitar, comes after hours of understanding and practicing the science and the techniques associated with the craft. So at OCI students spend a great deal of time in the kitchen practicing the skills that will give them confidence in a commercial kitchen. It is interesting to us how many culinary schools feel that demonstration and lecture are legitimate ways to teach culinary arts. When you consider that it is less expensive for these schools to teach through demonstration and lecture, you begin to see why they implement these tactics.

    The best way to understand who we are is to tour the school and meet with our students and faculty. They tell our story better than we can. Or, check out our website to see what industry chefs, graduates, and students say about us. We are an honest school, doing honest things. You should check us out.
     
    morphone likes this.
  3. morphone

    morphone

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    Wow, thanks for the input, Ray. I'm hoping to take a tour of Oregon Culinary Institute the first or second week of July. Question - the website shows all the courses and hours for the Baking and Pastry program, but the page for the Culinary Arts program  doesn't show the same information. Where can I find details on what classes and how many lecture/lab hours are involved for Culinary Arts?

    Your school does seem like an honest school, which is the primary reason I'm attracted to it. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013
  4. cns1417

    cns1417

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    As a current student at OCI I can tell you that deciding to move to Portland to attend this school has been the best decision i have made in my life. 

    I came to the school with about 3 years of previous cooking experience, and even so, immediately began learning. There is so much to learn in the culinary industry and it is always changing and evolving. The school and the instructors do a great job teaching us everything that they can and preparing us for in this ever changing industry. We are in the kitchen five days a week, while also spending time in the classroom. The kitchen and class sections are divided into 3 parts; T1, T2, and T3.

    T1 is very much focused on the basics, such as basic mise en place and kitchen setup, knife skills and knife cuts, safety and sanitation, cooking styles, taste and aroma, so on and so forth. T2 which i am currently in, is more challenging and builds on what you have already learned in T1. There is a section on healthy cooking and vegetarian, egg cookery, game, sea food, and about a week on baking and pastry. One of the main focuses is a section called "live fire". It is a simulation of a lunch service on the line. The students are responsible for creating there menu, ordering there product, and costing. Costing is a major theme in T2. T3 is culinary artistry and line service. Cooking on the line in the schools restaurant. If you take the management courses you will also be the wait staff in the restaurant. 

    The school is very well respected throughout the Portland culinary scene as well. There are tons of volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Last summer we even had chef Duff Goldman come to the school before a volunteer event he was doing with some students that evening. I recently worked with a handful of amazing chefs at the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour dinner. I just cant thank the school enough for giving me the opportunities they have given during my time there.

    I know you said you are already planning to visit, and I really hope you do. Come tour and meet some of the chefs and students, and come have lunch too!!
     
  5. morphone

    morphone

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    Hey thanks for that! Your reply is awesome and very helpful. Question - why did you decide to go to this school above all others? What other schools did you check out, and why did you decide not to go to them?
     
  6. johnj

    johnj

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    not a chef from any major restaurant. you get what you pay for so avoid.
     
  7. eric r calkins

    eric r calkins

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    Holy crap! Ray Colvin! You might not remember me, but I graduated about for months back! Its pudding skins! Hahahaha. Anyways, I responded to this question a few mins ago and I dont want to type it back out, so Im going to copy and paste it. Please forgive me. Here goes:
    Anyways, I dont want to go over things all over again, but this place is absolutely amazing. As for skills you will walk away with, we did everything we could get our hands on. We signed up to watch live animal butchery. We learned how to take apart nearly everything in the kitchen. Basic techniques were covered starting with knife skills, and more advanced techinques were slowly added on. It was fast, and it was hard, but never over bearing. You are constantly surrounded by teachers and peers who are serious about their future and will help you every step along the way. I cannot thank this school enough for everything they have done, and I attempt to give back to them by sending curious people to the school, in hopes that they will find what I did. Best of luck to you. I would go in for a tour if I were you, and see first hand what level this school will bring you to.

    Best of wishes,

    Eric R Calkins

    Kitchen Ninja for life!